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Coronavirus – South Sudan: From exposure to protection

The entire hospital is much cleaner. It used to be smelly, but not anymore,” says Akuol Deng Kur (40). She has done her best keeping the Military Hospital in Renk as spotless as possible since 2013, not an easy feat when your tools are limited.

“Before, I only had local brooms available. Sometimes I had to use only water, soap wasn’t always available,” she says.

“what about personal protection gear?”

“I have been cleaning the hospital including handling fluids from patients without appropriate gloves, masks or even cleaning materials.”

She felt bad about the situation, as cleanliness is critical to quality care as it has been shown to impact hospital infection rates. The unsettling feeling she left with every day grew exponentially when she heard about the outbreak of COVID-19 and how easily it is transmitted. Despite worrying about catching the disease, she stayed at her post, knowing the patient and the staff needed her help.

“I had to do my best with what I had.”

It might seem little for outsiders, but for Akuol it made her day when it was announced that World Vision with support from UNICEF would do a training on infection prevention and control and that new equipment would be disseminated as part of the COVID-19 response. She didn’t have to fear for her life anymore, doing her job.

“My life and work changed as the training and supplies did not only ease my work, also I’m also more confident as I feel safe when I perform my duties since I always wear the protection equipment  and use detergents appropriately to ensure that the surfaces are fully disinfected and clean.”

Akuol now feels even more motivated to work at the hospital, knowing she help saving lives by keeping it clean.

”The general hospital environment has become visibly clean and I am proud to have played a great role in changing the status of this hospital with the support from UNICEF and I will always be willing to perform my duties with pleasure,” Akuol says.

UNICEF has trained health workers, cleaners and other frontliners on appropriate infection prevention and control in order for them to respond to the pandemic in a safe way. UNICEF’s COVID response is carried out in partnership with the World Bank. UNICEF is thankful for the generous contributions from the Government of Japan and UKAid.

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